Each of us will be raising our children in a world quite different from the one we grew up in. We cannot prepare them for the challenges they will face using what we learned under our own upbringing. Only if they value humility will they be ready to meet the demands of perpetual change our world is creating. This can only happen when parents conquer their allegiance to their own dead past. Parents themselves must embrace neoteny to become childlike learners again, always questioning everything they thought to be true. It requires a total allegiance to honesty, never ignoring new information that invalidates one’s most cherished beliefs. They must maintain, throughout life, the innate curiosity that is commonly lost in adulthood as we grow too comfortable in our surroundings.
To raise a child is to invest a part of yourself into the identity of another person. That investment returns daily through the demands children create to see their parents grow themselves. If you are open to it, you’ll find that your kids have just as much to teach you as you do them, so long as you view things through their undeveloped eyes. Children tether us to growth. They can unlock our emotional capacity, which is why immature adults are often so uncomfortable around them. They expose the parts of us we work so hard to keep hidden. Every child is pleading for adults to show them that the world is a safe place to express themselves. Your mission is to pass on what you have learned, but give them the space to find their own identities.
The fallacy of influencers is believing it is their job to implant others’ minds with the same ideas they have come to believe over the course of their own personal journey. This attitude is the enemy of progress. Everyone begins the journey anew in a different time and under different externalities. Some will take up the mantle where you left off – but it will not be the exactly the same. Adaptation means solving today’s problems today, and laying ground for whatever tomorrow’s problems may be. If we cannot get out of our own way, we replicate the same problems we already know how to solve.
Those secure in their own identity do not need to force it on others. Everyone naturally wants to share their values with those who will listen, but only broken people try to turn others into copies of themselves. Taking on a leadership role means helping others become who they are, not becoming more like the way you have discovered yourself to be. Arbitrary importance given to the self is a form of subtle narcissism. The final battle, and the one so many people come so far just to lose, is simply getting over yourself. Everything both begins and ends with you. You are the most important thing in the universe and utterly insignificant. When you can accept these dual truths, you will be ready to take the rest of us to where we need to be, in our own way and time.